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Awhile back I visited this cool used book store fairly close to where I live, and found two old Evan Hunter paperbacks I had never seen before. I finally got around to reading one of them: "A Matter of Conviction". It was one of his early books. Assistant D.A. Hank Bell is assigned a case, prosecuting three young men who stabbed and killed another young man, who happened to be blind and Puerto Rican (it's the 1950s). The three boys who stabbed him are white and belong to a rival gang. As a further twist, the mother of one of the killers is Bell's old girlfriend, who wrote him a Dear John letter when he was off fighting in WW2. It had a lot of typical McBain elements to it, and it was a quick, engrossing read.

Charlaine Harris's sequel to "Midnight Crossroad", "Day Shift", was light and quick, one of those books you can read while distracted and still get enough of it to understand. Manfred, the physic, is giving a reading to a client when she dies. Her crazy son accuses Manfred of stealing his mother's jewels. The residents of Midnight come up with some plans to help clear Manfred's name. Quinn, the weretiger from Harris's Sookie books, makes an appearance, as does telepath Barry. I'm sure there will be more in this series, as she hinted to many residents' secrets.

The "Howard the Duck" omnibus was great fun. I especially liked the earlier ones. The series completely went off the rails, but I enjoyed it. Howard is a talking duck with arms instead of wings who fell through a time hole and ended up on Earth. Cleveland, to be exact. He does the best he can to get along in this strange world, but he keeps running into villains and victims. This book is also a great example of why I love libraries. It sells for $99 dollars, so it's not a book I would ever buy for myself, but I'm glad my library owns it and I got to read it.

Born to Drum

Tony Barrell's "Born to Drum" was great fun, I really enjoyed it. Even the somewhat more technical parts about drumming (I have zero musical abilities, I took piano lessons for years and can't play to save my life) were interesting. I've always had a thing for musicians, and I was surprised to find not everyone feels the same way. But he looked at why drummers tend to be a certain type of person and delved into what compels someone to become a drummer in the first place. He has a great sense of humor, too. Excellent all the way around.

I tried reading a book by Cherie Priest before, a Steampunk book called "Boneshaker", and I couldn't get into it. I thought I'd give her another try, since she's writing about a subject near and dear to my heart: Lizzie Borden. I finished this one, but I didn't really like it. It was very bizarre, I think the premise was something like Lizzie killed her parents because they were turning into sea monsters and she and her sister were researching it and they found some interesting specimens that Emma sent to a scientist and it ended up turning him into a raving, murdering lunatic who comes to Fall River to kill them. It was just very...odd.

After watching "Justified", I was eager to learn more about coal miners, so I picked up James Green's "The Devil is Here in These Hills", about West Virginia coal miners' struggle for freedom and equality. It was really quite moving, if a bit confusing. There were so many names of people I'd never heard of it was hard to keep everything straight. I still got something out of it, though, I think, about how these hardworking men were fighting against the company and the government at the same time. It's a rough life for sure.

I had high hopes for Roseanne Montillo's "Wilderness of Ruin". It sounded like it might be similar to Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City". I think that was her intention, it just didn't really gel. She took the story of convicted child killer Jesse Pomeroy, who at the age of 14 tortured and murdered several younger children, and tried to connect it to the Great Boston Fire with some of Herman Melville's life thrown in for good measure. The transitions were jarring and didn't make sense, and there wasn't much about Pomeroy at all. "Fiend" by Harold Schechter is a much better book about this young killer.

I really enjoyed Zoe Howe's biography of Stevie Nicks. Howe has a great, quirky sense of humor she incorporates into the story, which made Stevie's already interesting and incredible life even more fun to read about. It was softly done, a real love letter, but that was fine by me because I prefer not to hear anything nasty about Ms. Nicks. I do adore her. I've only seen her perform live about a dozen times now :)

Some of Max Allan Collins' Mickey Spillane Hammer books have been better than others. "Kill Me, Darling" was one of the really good ones. Velda has left Mike, who has spent the last four months she's been gone living in a bottle. Pat convinces Mike to crawl out of in when he tells him that Velda's shacked up with some nasty gangster type named Quinn down in Miami. Since Velda's old undercover boss was recently murdered, Pat and Mike think Velda was doing him a favor and investigating this guy, and now she might very well be in danger but too deep in to get out. Mike sobers up and heads down to Florida to rescue Velda. It was fun, and the descriptions of Miami in the 1950s were great.

Girl in a Band

Kim Gordon is awesome. "Girl in a Band" is a great book detailing her frustrations of being a female in the very male dominated world of rock n' roll. She also had some nice, tender memories of Kurt Cobain, which I always enjoy reading about. She is angry about Thurston's betrayal and breaking up her family, understandably and righteously so, and I'm glad she didn't try to play it off and be meek about it, the rage is authentic and her heartbreak is real. She's led a very unconventional life, and it was interesting.

Deep breath...okay. So, I've always hated the ending to "Pretty in Pink". It was OBVIOUS that Andie should have ended up with Ducky because, duh, he's Ducky. I am apparently not the only one who felt that way, although I would like to find the test audience who booed the original ending and beat some sense into them :) at any rate, Jon Cryer is a funny guy, I loved "Two and a Half Men" (with Charlie Sheen, after Ashton Kutcher came on I think they made Cryer's character more slimy and I stopped watching). I love most of "Pretty in Pink" (I think I've only watched the ending once or twice, I usually turn it off before then and pretend it ended the way it should have). It was a fun and entertaining book, and Jon Cryer seems like a hardworking, classy guy who is still a lot of fun. I'm glad he's found success and enjoying his life.
Ducky forever!

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